PHO703: A Book Dummy

Making a proper printed book dummy for my project is my number one task over the next few weeks. I have started mapping this out in Adobe In Design but I am very aware of my own inexperience. The Self Publish, Be Happy company’s instructional videos on Vimeo are going to be helpful here and I have noticed that one of their designer-publishers, Brian Paul Lamotte, offers one-to-one tutorials so I may well be taking that up (Self Publish Be Happy 2020). Another look at the curation and sequencing sections of Jörg Colberg’s Understanding Photobooks would be a good idea, too (Colberg 2017). I will likely use either Saal Digital or Blurb for the printing, at least for now, because it is easy and reasonably affordable.

I have drafted a few spreads to give myself an idea of what is possible. Of course, the immediate result is that all kinds of new story lines and points of comparison have arisen. For example, is this going to be a walk driven by enough of an internal narrative so that the sequencing flows through to the end without interruption? Or, are there going to be pauses and diversions, a stop along the way, for example, to examine a Becher-style grid of windows or street lights? At this stage I have no idea. I only know that these ideas are possible and arising.

Here (Figures 1-12 below) is a brief gallery view of some sample spreads. Click for a lightbox view with captions.


COLBERG, Jörg. 2017. Understanding Photobooks: The Form and Content of the Photographic Book. New York: Routledge.

SELF PUBLISH BE HAPPY. 2020. ‘Self Publish, Be Happy’. Self Publish, Be Happy [online]. Available at: [accessed 14 Aug 2020].


Figures 1-12. Mark CREAN. 2020. Sample spreads for a book dummy. From: Mark Crean. 2020. From Silent City. Collection of the author.

PHO703: Ed Ruscha Style

This is my preparation task for the new module, PHO703: Surfaces and Strategies.

I have got to grips with Adobe In Design and used it to prepare a simple photobook called Short Waits. A subtitle for it might be Bus Stop Magic in 26 Signs.

True, it is inspired by Ed Ruscha’s Twentysix Gasoline Stations (Ruscha 2020) and his similar books. My images also show largely unpeopled, workaday way stations we don’t normally think much about. And like Ruscha, ‘I was after that kind of blank reality that the subject matter would present’ (Ruscha 2006). However, if I am honest I would say that my book also owes a lot to the peculiar psycho-social conditions of Covid-19 lockdown in the UK. Isolation and emptiness have become the new normal, another kind of ‘blank reality’.

My book is larger, a little less barebones and apparently artless, and it is in colour. I could easily have made the book with monochrome images but part of my intent with this course is learning to use colour much more effectively, and so I have forsworn black and white for almost all my coursework. Ruscha said that he used his camera as a simple recording machine – ‘I just pick it up like an axe when I’ve got to chop down a tree’ (Coleman 2002: 53) – but I am not as hard-hearted as that.

I offer a pdf of the book online here for anyone who is interested. I have sent the original material off to be printed (by Blurb) and expect to receive a finished copy on about 05 June.

What have I taken from this work? An appreciation of Ed Ruscha, the satisfaction of starting and completing a project, the pleasure of creating a book, and learning how to use Adobe In Design. Making a start on using this software effectively is a great step forward for me.


Fig. 1: Mark Crean 2020. Short Waits, a booklet of mysterious bus absences in the style of Ed Ruscha.

Here is the URL for the pdf:

Short Waits PDF


COLEMAN, A.D. 2002. ‘I’m Not Really a Photographer’. In Edward RUSCHA and Alexandra SCHWARTZ. Leave Any Information at the Signal : Writings, Interviews, Bits, Pages. Cambridge, Mass. : MIT, 53.

RUSCHA, Edward. 2006. In Denis LAWSON, ‘Paper Movies’, The Genius of Photography. BBC TV Arts Documentary. London: BBC.

RUSCHA, Edward. 2020. ‘Twentysix Gasoline Stations, (1963, Printed 1969)’. Art Gallery NSW [online]. Available at: [accessed 27 May 2020].


Figure 1: Mark CREAN. 2020. Short Waits, a booklet of mysterious bus absences in the style of Ed Ruscha. Collection of the author.